Perhaps overshadowing the release of the fourth Lincoln cent design of 2009 Nov. 12 was the unveiling at the ceremony of the design of the new cent that will be introduced in 2010.
While the obverse will continue to depict Victor David Brenner’s Lincoln portrait, the reverse will depict a Civil War-era shield that is emblematic of the preservation of the Union.
The Mint describes the new reverse as featuring a Union Shield with a scroll draped across it bearing the inscription E PLURIBUS UNUM. The 13 vertical stripes of the shield represent the states joined in one compact Union to support the federal government, represented by the horizontal bar above. In addition, the shield device is featured throughout the halls of the U.S. Capitol Building on frescoes by Constantino Brumidi, the artist of the Capitol during Lincoln’s presidency.
It is a design device used before. It appeared on the 2-cent piece that was struck 1864-1873 and the Shield nickel, which was produced 1866-1883.
The new shield, though, is distinctly different. It is much thinner than that fully rounded shields of the 19th century.
Introduction of the new design will conclude the changes to the cent that have kept collectors both riveted by the new designs and frustrated by the difficulty in finding them in change.
The changes to the cent design were authorized by Congress in 2005.